Mark 6:7
And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits;
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(7) He called unto him the twelve.—See Notes on Matthew 10:1-15. The omission by St. Mark of the greater part of the discourse connected with the mission of the Twelve in Matthew 10 is every way characteristic of the writer, whose main work it was to trace the ministry of action rather than of speech.



Mark 6:1 - Mark 6:13

An easy day’s journey would carry Jesus and His followers from Capernaum, on the lake-side, to Nazareth, among the hills. What took our Lord back there? When last He taught in the synagogue of Nazareth, His life had been in danger; and now He thrusts Himself into the wolf’s den. Why? Mark seems to wish us to observe the connection between this visit and the great group of miracles which he has just recorded; and possibly the link may be our Lord’s hope that the report of these might have preceded Him and prepared His way. In His patient long-suffering He will give His fellow-villagers another chance; and His heart yearns for ‘His own country,’ and ‘His own kin,’ and ‘His own house,’ of which He speaks so pathetically in the context.

I. We have here unbelief born of familiarity, and its effects on Christ {Mark 6:1 - Mark 6:6}.

Observe the characteristic avoidance of display, and the regard for existing means of worship, shown in His waiting till the Sabbath, and then resorting to the synagogue. He and His hearers would both remember His last appearance in it; and He and they would both remember many a time before that, when, as a youth, He had sat there. The rage which had exploded on His first sermon has given place to calmer, but not less bitter, opposition. Mark paints the scene, and represents the hearers as discussing Jesus while He spoke. The decorous silence of the synagogue was broken by a hubbub of mutual questions. ‘Many’ spoke at once, and all had the same thing to say. The state of mind revealed is curious. They own Christ’s wisdom in His teaching, and the reality of His miracles, of which they had evidently heard; but the fact that He was one of themselves made them angry that He should have such gifts, and suspicious of where He had got them. They seem to have had the same opinion as Nathanael-that no ‘good thing’ could ‘come out of Nazareth.’ Their old companion could not be a prophet; that was certain. But He had wisdom and miraculous power; that was as certain. Where had they come from? There was only one other source; and so, with many headshakings, they were preparing to believe that the Jesus whom they had all known, living His quiet life of labour among them, was in league with the devil, rather than believe that He was a messenger from God.

We note in their questions, first, the glimpse of our Lord’s early life. They bring before us the quiet, undistinguished home and the long years of monotonous labour. We owe to Mark alone the notice that Jesus actually wrought at Joseph’s handicraft. Apparently the latter was dead, and, if so, Jesus would be the head of the house, and probably the ‘breadwinner.’ One of the fathers preserves the tradition that He ‘made plows and yokes, by which He taught the symbols of righteousness and an active life.’ That good father seems to think it needful to find symbolical meanings, in order to save Christ’s dignity; but the prose fact that He toiled at the carpenter’s bench, and handled hammer and saw, needs nothing to heighten its value as a sign of His true participation in man’s lot, and as the hallowing of manual toil. How many weary arms have grasped their tools with new vigour and contentment when they thought of Him as their Pattern in their narrow toils! The Nazarenes’ difficulty was but one case of a universal tendency. Nobody finds it easy to believe that some village child, who has grown up beside him, and whose undistinguished outside life he knows, has turned out a genius or a great man. The last people to recognise a prophet are always his kindred and his countrymen. ‘Far-away birds have fine feathers.’ Men resent it as a kind of slight on themselves that the other, who was one of them but yesterday, should be so far above them to-day. They are mostly too blind to look below the surface, and they conclude that, because they saw so much of the external life, they knew the man that lived it. The elders of Nazareth had seen Jesus grow up, and to them He would be ‘the carpenter’s son’ still. The more important people had known the humbleness of His home, and could not adjust themselves to look up to Him, instead of down. His equals in age would find their boyish remembrances too strong for accepting Him as a prophet. All of them did just what the most of us would have done, when they took it for certain that the Man whom they had known so well, as they fancied, could not be a prophet, to say nothing of the Messiah so long looked for. It is easy to blame them; but it is better to learn the warning in their words, and to take care that we are not blind to some true messenger of God just because we have been blessed with close companionship with him. Many a household has had to wait for death to take away the prophet before they discern him. Some of us entertain ‘angels unawares,’ and have bitterly to feel, when too late, that our eyes were holden that we should not know them.

These questions bring out strongly what we too often forget in estimating Christ’s contemporaries-namely, that His presence among them, in the simplicity of His human life, was a positive hindrance to their seeing His true character. We sometimes wish that we had seen Him, and heard His voice. We should have found it more difficult to believe in Him if we had. ‘His flesh’ was a ‘veil’ in other sense than the Epistle to the Hebrews means; for, by reason of men’s difficulty in piercing beneath it, it hid from many what it was meant and fitted to reveal. Only eyes purged beheld the glory of ‘the Word’ become flesh when it ‘dwelt among us’-and even they saw Him more clearly when they saw Him no more. Let us not be too hard on these simple Nazarenes, but recognise our kith and kin.

The facts on which the Nazarenes grounded their unbelief are really irrefragable proof of Christ’s divinity. Whence had this man His wisdom and mighty works? Born in that humble home, reared in that secluded village, shut out from the world’s culture, buried, as it were, among an exclusive and abhorred people, how came He to tower above all teachers, and to sway the world? ‘With whom took He counsel? and who instructed Him, and taught Him?’ The character and work of Christ, compared with the circumstances of His origin and environment, are an insoluble riddle, except on one supposition-that He was the word and power of God.

The effects of this unbelief on our Lord were twofold. It limited His power. Matthew says that ‘He did not many mighty works.’ Mark goes deeper, and boldly days ‘He could not.’ It is mistaken jealousy for Christ’s honour to seek to pare down the strong words. The atmosphere of chill unbelief froze the stream. The power was there, but it required for its exercise some measure of moral susceptibility. His miraculous energy followed, in general, the same law as His higher exercise of saving grace does; that is to say, it could not force itself upon unwilling men. Christ ‘cannot’ save a man who does not trust Him. He was hampered in the outflow of His healing power by unsympathetic disparagement and unbelief. Man can thwart God. Faith opens the door, and unbelief shuts it in His face. He ‘would have gathered,’ but they ‘would not,’ and therefore He ‘could not.’

The second effect of unbelief on Him was that He ‘marvelled.’ He is twice recorded to have wondered-once at a Gentile’s faith, once at His townsmen’s unbelief. He wondered at the first because it showed so unusual a susceptibility; at the second, because it showed so unreasonable a blindness. All sin is a wonder to eyes that see into the realities of things and read the end; for it is all utterly unreasonable {though it is, alas! not unaccountable} and suicidal. ‘Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this.’ Unbelief in Christ is, by Himself, declared to be the very climax of sin, and its most flagrant evidence {John 16:9}; and of all the instances of unbelief which saddened His heart, none struck more chill than that of these Nazarenes. They had known His pure youth; He might have reckoned on some touch of sympathy and predisposition to welcome Him. His wonder is the measure of His pain as well as of their sin.

Nor need we wonder that He wondered; for He was true man, and all human emotions were His. To one who lives ever in the Father’s bosom, what can seem so strange as that men should prefer homeless exposedness and dreary loneliness? To one whose eyes ever behold unseen realities, what so marvellous as men’s blindness? To one who knew so assuredly His own mission and rich freightage of blessing, how strange it must have been that He found so few to accept His gifts! Jesus knew that bitter wonder which all men who have a truth to proclaim which the world has not learned, have to experience-the amazement at finding it so hard to get any others to see what they see. In His manhood, He shared the fate of all teachers, who have, in their turn, to marvel at men’s unbelief.

II. The new instrument which Christ fashions to cope with unbelief.

What does Jesus do when thus ‘wounded in the house of His friends’? Give way to despondency? No; but meekly betake Himself to yet obscurer fields of service, and send out the Twelve to prepare His way, as if He thought that they might have success where He would fail. What a lesson for people who are always hankering after conspicuous ‘spheres,’ and lamenting that their gifts are wasted in some obscure corner, is that picture of Jesus, repulsed from Nazareth, patiently turning to the villages! The very summary account of the trial mission of the Twelve here given presents only the salient points of the charge to them, and in its condensation makes these the more emphatic. Note the interesting statement that they were sent out two-and-two. The other Evangelists do not tell us this, but their lists of the Apostles are arranged in pairs. Mark’s list is not so arranged, but he supplies the reason for the arrangement, which he does not follow; and the other Gospels, by their arrangement, confirm his statement, which they do not give. Two-and-two is a wise rule for all Christian workers. It checks individual peculiarities of self-will, helps to keep off faults, wholesomely stimulates, strengthens faith by giving another to hear it and to speak it, brings companionship, and admits of division of labour. One-and-one are more than twice one.

The first point is the gift of power. Unclean spirits are specified, but the subsequent verses show that miracle-working power in its other forms was included. We may call that Christ’s greatest miracle. That He could, by His mere will, endow a dozen men with such power, is more, if degree come into view at all, than that He Himself should exercise it. But there is a lesson in the fact for all ages-even those in which miracles have ceased. Christ gives before He commands, and sends no man into the field without filling his basket with seed-corn. His gifts assimilate the receiver to Himself, and only in the measure in which His servants possess power which is like His own, and drawn from Him, can they proclaim His coming, or prepare hearts for it. The second step is their equipment. The special commands here given were repealed by Jesus when He gave His last commands. In their letter they apply only to that one journey, but in their spirit they are of universal and permanent obligation. The Twelve were to travel light. They might carry a staff to help them along, and wear sandals to save their feet on rough roads; but that was to be all. Food, luggage, and money, the three requisites of a traveller, were to be ‘conspicuous by their absence.’ That was repealed afterwards, and instructions given of an opposite character, because, after His ascension, the Church was to live more and more by ordinary means; but in this journey they were to learn to trust Him without means, that afterwards they might trust Him in the means. He showed them the purpose of these restrictions in the act of abrogating them. ‘When I sent you forth without purse . . . lacked ye anything?’ But the spirit remains unabrogated, and the minimum of outward provision is likeliest to call out the maximum of faith. We are more in danger from having too much baggage than from having too little. And the one indispensable requirement is that, whatever the quantity, it should hinder neither our march nor our trust in Him who alone is wealth and food.

Next comes the disposition of the messengers. It is not to be self-indulgent. They are not to change quarters for the sake of greater comfort. They have not gone out to make a pleasure tour, but to preach, and so are to stay where they are welcomed, and to make the best of it. Delicate regard for kindly hospitality, if offered by ever so poor a house, and scrupulous abstinence from whatever might suggest interested motives, must mark the true servant. That rule is not out of date. If ever a herald of Christ falls under suspicion of caring more about life’s comforts than about his work, good-bye to his usefulness! If ever he does so care, whether he be suspected of it or no, spiritual power will ebb from him.

The next step is the messengers’ demeanour to the rejecters of their message. Shaking the dust off the sandals is an emblem of solemn renunciation of participation, and perhaps of disclaimer of responsibility. It meant certainly, ‘We have no more to do with you,’ and possibly, ‘Your blood be on your own heads.’ This journey of the Twelve was meant to be of short duration, and to cover much ground, and therefore no time was to be spent unnecessarily. Their message was brief, and as well told quickly as slowly. The whole conditions of work now are different. Sometimes, perhaps, a Christian is warranted in solemnly declaring to those who receive not his message, that he will have no more to say to them. That may do more than all his other words. But such cases are rare; and the rule that it is safest to follow is rather that of love which despairs of none, and, though often repelled, returns with pleading, and, if it have told often in vain, now tells with tears, the story of the love that never abandons the most obstinate.

Such were the prominent points of this first Christian mission. They who carry Christ’s banner in the world must be possessed of power, His gift, must be lightly weighted, must care less for comfort than for service, must solemnly warn of the consequences of rejecting the message; and so they will not fail to cast out devils, and to heal many that are sick.

Mark 6:7. He calleth unto him the twelve — While Jesus preached among the villages in the neighbourhood of Nazareth, he sent his twelve apostles through the several cities of Galilee, to proclaim that God was about to establish the kingdom of the Messiah, wherein he would be worshipped in spirit and in truth; and instead of all external rites and ceremonies, would accept nothing but repentance, faith, and sincere obedience. Moreover, to confirm their doctrine, he gave them power to work miracles of healing, which also would tend to procure them acceptance. See Luke 9:1-2. By two and two — We may suppose that Matthew had an eye to this circumstance in the catalogue which he has given of the apostles; for, chapter Mark 10:2-4, he has joined them together in pairs; very probably just as they were sent out now by their Master. Jesus ordered his disciples to go by two and two, doubtless that they might encourage each other in their work. The history of their election and commission is given, Matthew 10:1, &c.; where see the notes. But it seems they were not actually sent till now, when Jesus intended forthwith to enlarge the scene of his ministry. He, therefore, on this occasion renewed their powers, and repeated the principal things contained in the instructions formerly given.

6:7-13 Though the apostles were conscious to themselves of great weakness, and expected no wordly advantage, yet, in obedience to their Master, and in dependence upon his strength, they went out. They did not amuse people with curious matters, but told them they must repent of their sins, and turn to God. The servants of Christ may hope to turn many from darkness unto God, and to heal souls by the power of the Holy Ghost.And he called unto him the twelve - See the notes at Matthew 10:1.

And began to send them forth by two and two - In order that they might "support" and "encourage" each other in their work. Amid the trials and opposition with which they would meet, mutual counsel and aid would greatly lighten their burdens and alleviate their calamities. Mutual counsel might also contribute to their success, and lead to "united" plans to advance the kingdom of the Redeemer. Jesus here, as in all the work of religion, consulted at the same time the "happiness" and the "usefulness" of his disciples; nor are they ever separated. Whatever contributes to the "usefulness" of his people produces also their happiness; or, in other words, the secret of being happy is to be "useful."

Mr 6:7-13. Mission of the Twelve Apostles. ( = Mt 10:1, 5-15; Lu 9:1-6).

See on [1440]Mt 10:1; [1441]Mt 10:5-15.

Ver. 7,8.
Mark had before told us of the election of the twelve, Mark 3:14, which neither Matthew nor Luke mention: here he gives us an account of their mission, which is mentioned by both them also. The instructions which he gave them are much the same with what we meet with in Matthew 10:1-42, and there opened. He would have them, upon their first mission, commit themselves to and find the experience of the Divine providence; and therefore he charges them,

1. To take no money as a reward of their pains.

2. Not to go provided with any sustenance, or money to buy any; only they might take a walking stick in their hands, for, as Matthew reports it, he forbade them taking any staves to bear burdens, as well as any scrips; or it may be he meant two staves, that if one had any way miscarried, have been broken or lost, they might have another at hand.

And he called unto him the twelve,.... "His twelve disciples", as some copies read; whom he had before called by his grace, and had appointed and ordained them his apostles, but had not yet publicly sent forth; in order to which, he now called them to him, and gave them their commission, qualifications, and instructions:

and began to send them forth by two and two: he first sent forth one couple, and then another; the reason of his sending them by pairs, was partly for the sake of company, and that they might be useful and assisting to one another; and partly to show their agreement in doctrine; and that they might be proper and sufficient witnesses of it, whereby it might be established; and the rather, being thus sent by pairs into different parts, their message would be the sooner dispatched, than if they had all went together:

and gave them power over unclean spirits; that is, to cast them out; as it is expressed in Mat_. 10:1; see Gill on Matthew 10:1; and which is here added in the Syriac and Persic versions. Many things are omitted by this evangelist, which are mentioned by Matthew: he does not give us the names of the twelve apostles; the reason of that indeed may be, because they are related by him in Mark 3:16, and he did not choose to repeat them here: nor does he take any notice of the places where the apostles were to go, and where not; nor of the persons to whom, or not; as not into the way of the Gentiles, nor into any of the cities of the Samaritans, but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel: nor does he say any thing of the subject matter of their ministry or what they had in charge to publish; as that the kingdom of heaven is at hand, or the Gospel dispensation: nor does he observe the several things they were to do in confirmation of their doctrine and mission; as healing the sick, cleansing lepers, raising the dead, and casting out devils: he only relates the directions given them with respect to their journey, in the following verses; the reason of all which seems to be, because he refers not to the same time as Matthew does, to their appointment and ordination; but to the time they were sent out, and proceeded on their journey.

{2} And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits;

(2) The disciples are prepared for that general apostleship by a special sending forth.

Mark 6:7-13. Comp. Matthew 10:1-14; Luke 9:1-6. Mark here adopts, with abridgment and sifting, from the collection of Logia what was essentially relevant to his purpose; Luke follows him, not without obliteration and generalizing of individual traits.

ἤρξατο] He now began that sending forth, to which they were destined in virtue of their calling; its continuance was their whole future calling, from the standpoint of which Mark wrote his ἤρξατο.

δύο δύο] binos, in pairs. Sir 36:25. A Hebraism; Winer, p. 223 [E. T. 312]. The Greek says κατά, ἀνά, εἰς δύο, or even συνδύο (see Valckenaer, ad Herod. p. 311; Heindorf, ad Plat. Parm. p. 239). Wherefore in pairs? “Ad plenam testimonii fidem,” Grotius. Comp. Luke 7:19; Luke 9:1.

Mark 6:8. αἴρωσιν] should take up, in order to carry it with them, 1Ma 4:30.

εἰ μὴ ῥάβδον μόνον] The variation in Matthew and Luke betokens the introduction of exaggeration,[96] but not a misunderstanding of the clear words (Weiss). There is an attempt at a mingling of interpretations at variance with the words in Ebrard, p. 382; Lange, L. J. II. 2, p. 712. It ultimately comes to this, that εἰ μὴ ῥ. μ. is intended to mean: at most a staff. Even Bleek has recourse to the unfounded refinement, that the staff in Mark is meant only for support, not as a weapon of defence.

Mark 6:9. ἀλλʼ ὑποδεδεμ. σανδάλ.] There is no difference from μηδὲ ὑποδήματα, Matthew 10:10, not even a correction of this expression (Bleek, comp. Holtzmann). See on Matt. l.c. The meaning is, that they should be satisfied with the simple light foot-covering of sandals, in contrast with the proper calceus (ὑπόδημα κοῖλον), which had upper leather, and the use of which was derived from the Phoenicians and Babylonians (Leyrer in Herzog’s Encykl. VII. p. 729). Comp. Acts 12:8. The construction is anacoluthic, as though παρήγγειλεν αὐτοῖς πορεύεσθαι had been previously said. Then the discourse changes again, going over from the obliqua into the directa (ἐνδύσησθε). See Kühner, II. p. 598 f., and ad Xen. Mem. i. 4. 15, iii. 5. 14, iv. 4. 5. A lively non-periodic mode of representing the matter; comp. Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 330 [E. T. 384 f.].

Mark 6:10. καὶ ἔλεγ. αὐτ.] a new portion of the directions given on that occasion. Comp. on Mark 4:13.

ἐκεῖ] in this house: but ἐκεῖθεν: from this τόπος (see the critical remarks).

Mark 6:11. εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς] which is to serve them for a testimony, namely, of that which the shaking off of the dust expresses, that they are placed on a footing of equality with heathens. Comp. on Matthew 10:14.

Mark 6:12 f. ἵνα] the aim of the ἐκήρυξαν.

ἤλειφον ἐλαίῳ] The anointing with oil (the mention of which in this place is held by Baur, on account of Jam 5:14, to betray a later date) was very frequently applied medically in the case of external and internal ailments. See Lightfoot, p. 304, 617; Schoettgen, I. p. 1033; Wetstein in loc. But the assumption that the apostles had healed by the natural virtue of the oil (Paulus, Weisse), is at variance with the context, which narrates their miraculous action. Nevertheless it is also wholly unwarranted to regard the application of the oil in this case merely as a symbol; either of the working of miracles for the purpose of awakening faith (Beza, Fritzsche, comp. Weizsäcker), or of the bodily and spiritual refreshment (Euthymius Zigabenus), or of the divine compassion (Theophylact, Calvin), or to find in it merely an arousing of the attention (Russwurm in the Stud. u. Krit. 1830, p. 866), or, yet again, a later magical mingling of the supernatural and the natural (de Wette). In opposition to the latter view the pertinent remark of Euthymius Zigabenus holds good: εἰκὸς δὲ, καὶ τοῦτο παρὰ τοῦ κυρίου διδαχθῆναι τοὺς ἀποστόλους. Comp. Jam 5:14. The anointing is rather, as is also the application of spittle on the part of Jesus Himself (Mark 7:33, Mark 8:23; John 9:6), to be looked upon as a conductor of the supernatural healing power, analogous to the laying on of hands in Mark 6:5, so that the faith was the causa apprehendens, the miraculous power the causa efficiens, and the oil was the medians, therefore without independent power of healing, and not even necessary, where the way of immediate operation was, probably in accordance with the susceptibility of the persons concerned, adopted by the Healer, as Jesus also heals the blind man of Jericho without any application of spittle, Mark 10:46 f. The passage before us has nothing to do with the unctio extrema (in opposition to Maldonatus and many others), although Bisping still thinks that he discovers here at least a type thereof.

[96] Inverting the matter, Baur holds that the “reasoning” Mark had modified the expression. Comp. Holtzmann and Hilgenfeld.

Mark 6:7. ἤρξατο, etc.: Jesus calling to Him (προσκαλεῖται, vide Mark 3:13) the Twelve began at length to do what He had intended from the first (Weiss), viz., to send them forth as missioners (ἀποστέλλειν).—δύο δύο, two (and) two, Hebraic for κατὰ or ἀνὰ δύο; two together, not one by one, a humane arrangement.—ἐδίδου, imperfect, as specifying an accompaniment of the mission, not pointing to separate empowerment of each pair.—ἐξουσίαν τ. π. τ. ., power over unclean spirits, alone mentioned by Mark, cf. Matthew and Luke.

7–13. Mission of the Twelve

7. he called] Rather, He calleth unto Him.

two and two] St Mark alone records this. They were sent forth probably in different directions on a tentative mission, to make trial of their powers, and fit them for a more extended mission afterwards. Their election had taken place in the solitude of a mountain range their first mission occurred amidst the busy towns and villages of Galilee.

Mark 6:7. Ἤρξατο, began) After that they had made some progress.—δύο δύο, by two and two) six pairs; Matthew 10:2-3.—καὶ, and) The rest of His instructions are evident from Mark 6:12-13.

Verse 7. - At Mark 3:7 we had the account of our Lord's selection of the twelve. Here we find the notice of their being first sent forth. Their names have already been recorded. He gave them authority - mark the imperfect (ἐδίδου) - over unclean spirits. St. Matthew (Matthew 10:1) adds, "and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease." But St. Mark here fixes the attention upon the great central object of Christ's mission - to contend against evil in every form, and especially to grapple with Satan in his stronghold in the hearts of men. Mark 6:7By two and two

To help and encourage each other, and also for fulness of testimony.

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